Murder strikes at the heart of the University when Dr Felix McClure, a retired college don, is found stabbed to death.
Morse and Lewis suspect Ted Brooks, McClure's old 'scout' (or college servant), who left his job abruptly after one of McClure's pupils committed suicide. Morse discovers that McClure, the suicidal undergraduate, and his room-mate, Ashley Davies, were all in love with the same woman - who was Brooks's daughter.
Morse and Lewis add to their list of suspects when they question the unusually close relationship between Ted Brooks's wife Brenda and the woman she cleans house for, a schoolteacher called Julia Stevens. Julia seems to be protecting Brenda from her husband's abusive behavior - but when Ted is found dead, it seems she may be hiding another kind of secret.
Jane's husband, Alexander, has a new business partner called Joe Gruder, but Lovejoy is suspicious of him. Jane gets a call from Lily Gruder, Joe's wife, who has a problem with some pearls and a pawnbroker, and Lovejoy decides to look into Joe's affairs. Mr Gruder does not come up smelling of roses.